"Compassion"

Summary: "I've had people leave me before." Peyton sighs. "I'm not wallowing on the sofa." "The people that left you weren't her." Nathan can't be touched anymore.

Note: I know Peyton is OOC, but I needed her to be for this.


Nathan can't be touched anymore.

That's one thing Peyton notices about the broken-hearted Nathan. When she reached out to touch him, to offer him some form of comfort, he pulls away.

She watches him fall apart, day by day. But one thing about Nathan stays the same. He refuses to be touched. Peyton sees Lucas try to hug his brother. Nathan jerks away. Deb tries to pat his shoulder. Nathan slips out of her touch.

"Why don't you go get us dinner?" Peyton says as she steps into the apartment. She comes over every Friday to clean up. Lucas goes over on Wednesdays, and Deb has claimed Mondays as her own. The three of them have an unofficial schedule.

Nathan pauses his game and sighs. "I really don't feel like going out."

"I feel like Chinese." Peyton has to push Nathan or he does nothing. "There's some money in my purse. Could you get me an order of orange chicken and a side of fried vegetable rice?" Peyton set her purse on the kitchen island. "I'm going to go make your bed."

"I don't feel like going out."

"Then I'll come with you. Go, get dressed."

Nathan sighs. "I'm dressed."

"Then let's go." Peyton takes her purse back and walks over to the couch to give Nathan a 'let's go' pat. She knows that Nathan doesn't like to be touched, so this usually gets him going.

Nathan yells, "Fuck, leave me alone!" as Peyton's hand moves down to touch his head. "Just leave me alone!"

"Nathan, look at you." Peyton cries and Nathan looks down at himself. He's wearing green sweatpants and his Tree Hill High sweatshirt, sitting amidst beer bottles and pizza boxes.

"Yeah, so?"

"I've had people leave me before." Peyton sighs. "I'm not wallowing on the sofa."

"The people that left you weren't her." Nathan says, reaching out to grab one of the empty bottles. He hurls it across the room, where it smashes into a million pieces. Peyton shudders.

"Nathan, why can't I touch you?" Peyton says.

He answers so softly that Peyton strains to hear him: "I don't deserve it."

"Yes, you do." Peyton says, shoving a bag of chips aside. She sits down.

"Damn it, I don't. I wouldn't let her be with him and she got fed up and left me…" Nathan says, picking his controller up. But Peyton reaches out and sets it back down.

"You deserve this." Peyton touches Nathan's neck, and her fingers drag themselves across his neck. He shivers, feeling human touch for the first time in a few weeks.

"You're going out with Jake." Nathan whispers.

"I know." Peyton replies.

"I haven't felt that since she left." Nathan voice is hoarse and raw.

Peyton leans over and kisses the side of his neck. Nathan moans. "Does that feel good to you?"

"Yeah." Nathan turns his neck to meet her lips in a kiss. Peyton's lips open and Nathan's tongue moves into her mouth. As quickly as the whole thing started, it ended, with Nathan jerking away. "I can't do this. I'm sorry, Peyton. I owe it to Haley."

A million thoughts run through Peyton's mind, but she only nods. "Yeah."

"Fuck." Nathan mutters, running a hand through his hair. "Um, maybe you should go. Thanks for coming."

"Okay, bye, Nathan." Peyton jumps off the sofa, walks over to the kitchen to grab her purse, and leaves the apartment. Outside, she shoves her key into the ignition, as her music starts blaring. She knows cheating on Jake was wrong, but her mind tries to forget.

Nathan stays inside, and leans back on the sofa, and finds himself calling Haley. She actually answers.

"Nathan?"

"Haley, I need you." Nathan whispers. "I know you're dating Chris now, but I need you."

"Nathan, I'm not dating Chris."

"You said on TV you were!" Nathan exclaims. "He looked right at the camera and said you two were dating."

"He lied." Haley says. "He wants us to be together. I don't want to be with him."

"Really?" Nathan speaks up, and then he begs: "Come home, please. I didn't mean what I said…I want you and I want to work on our marriage when you come home. Please come home."

"Nathan…"

"I kissed Peyton, Haley. That's howfucked up I am! She's going out with Jake and I'm with you and I kissed her. I'm sorry."

Haley says quietly, "You kissed Peyton?"

"You kissed Chris, so don't go off on me." Nathan snaps, and then sighs.

"I'm coming." Haley says. "I'll see you soon."

"Bye." Nathan replies, and hangs up, relieved that she is coming.

Nathan cleans up the apartment, finishes off his six-pack of beer, throws up, and waits. He's sitting on the sofawhen the door opens the next day.

"Haley!" He cries, running over to her. "I missed you so much. I love you."

Haley breathes, "I missed you too." She stands on her tip toes and kisses him softly on the lips.

Nathan fumbles for her hand. She grasps his hand and gives it a squeeze. Nathan pulls back. "God, I'm going to fucking cry. I'm sorry."

"It's okay." Haley says, wiping away one of Nathan's tears with her thumb. "It's all okay now."

Nathan nods in agreement,and heis about to kiss her again. Ashe moves in, he pulls away,then yells, "No, it's not! You can't leave me like that. Haley, you can't do that! Maybe this was a bad idea."

"Nathan!"

"Just go, please."

"Nathan!" Haley tries again. "I came back for you!"

"I love you but I can't even look at you without my heart breaking." Nathan says, looking down at his feet. "Just go." He whispers. When she doesn't make any motions to leave, he screams, "Go, damn it!"

Haley runs out of the apartment, crying.

Nathan, in turn, reaches for another beer.

END


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